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RESPONSE TO TERROR | EUROPEAN ACTION

France Sends Troops for Aid Effort

November 17, 2001|From Reuters

ISTRES, France — France began deploying the first of an expected 300 troops to Afghanistan on Friday as part of an international operation to secure humanitarian aid to millions of hungry people.

An advance party of 58 French marines set out for the city of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, which Northern Alliance troops captured a week ago.

They left the Istres air base in southern France on board two C-160 military transport planes that took off an hour apart. They were bound for Incirlik air base in Turkey.

Military officials said the soldiers would continue from Incirlik today to the Khanabad base in southern Uzbekistan on U.S. aircraft and were expected to reach Mazar-i-Sharif by helicopter on Sunday or Monday.

Col. Jean-Marc Salliard said the force would swell to more than 300 soldiers once the advance party had assessed conditions on the ground.

Lt. Col. Francis Bordachar said one French task would be to protect U.S. and Arab teams that would clear mines around Mazar-i-Sharif.

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